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A Legacy of Faithfulness

This weekend, two friends, two fathers in ministry, finished their race and went home to be with Jesus.

Bro. Paul BoxBro. Paul Box was my first pastor. I had the opportunity to catch up with him last year. I wrote this after our last visit:

I just got to visit with Bro. Paul Box. He was the pastor at First Baptist Moore when I came to faith in Christ. He was pastor when I was first called into ministry. He and his wife, Patti, were the first to teach me what life in ministry was all about.

I remember being in the 6th grade. They encouraged us to take notes during the services for 4 weeks. Those of us who completed all 4 weeks received a t-shirt. It had a pocket print that said, “Pastor’s Palls”. Oh yes, it was that cool.

When they gave out the shirts Bro. Paul shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.” It’s strange, the effect of four simple words. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to live up to the faith so many others have had in me.

Today, as we finished our conversation Bro. Paul again shook my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.”

And the 6th grade boy in me returned.

I hope someday I inspire others the way Bro. Paul inspires me.

 


Dr. Michael ComptonDr. Mike Compton was my College Pastor. To this day I catch myself using his quotes, and teaching his lessons. From him I learned what it means to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with the Heavenly Father and how to encourage others to do the same. He would challenge people with this idea,

“Jesus discipled 12 men who would change the world. What would it be like if you did the same?”

It was clear Mike was looking for his 12. He always said that since he didn’t have the privilege of knowing which 12 would be his ones to change the world that he would make it his goal to disciple as many people as God would entrust to him. He was faithful to this call and I am blessed because of it.

It makes me wonder who my 12 will be. It makes me hope that someday I will discover I became one of his.


Grief is the price we pay for loving relationships that last beyond the horizon of this world to influence eternity. Yet Scripture is clear, as followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t grieve like those who have no hope, and for good reason. Both of these architects of my faith would say it like this:

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” – Philippians 1:21-23

They would add:

“Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith I therein rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:17-18

And finally:

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27

I am grateful for Bro. Paul and for Mike. I hope to live up to the legacy of faith they invested in me. They will be missed.

The Legacy of Joe Paterno

You’ve seen it in the news. Joe Paterno, 85, died this past Sunday from lung cancer. My prayers are with his family, friends and fans. It’s likely an understatement to suggest this year has been a difficult one for the Paterno family. The way the news reads says it all.

From Reuters…
“Penn State students and supporters laid flowers and lit candles on Monday as they mourned the death of Joe Paterno, who won more games than any other U.S. major college football coach but saw his legacy tarnished by a child sexual abuse scandal at the school.”

Fox News…
“Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno died on Sunday, his family announced, after a two-month battle with lung cancer that was diagnosed near the end of the playing season, just as Paterno was fired as head coach of a team he had served 61 years.”

From CNN…
“What do you do when a wonderful man who made a terrible mistake dies?” CNN contributor and sportswriter LZ Granderson doesn’t know. His article on CNN.com is getting a lot of buzz though, as he walks users through his conflicted emotions and explains the sentiments of those who fall in the middle.”

From ESPN…
“There is, obviously, nothing inherently surprising about Paterno’s death: He was an 85-year-old man with cancer in his lungs who had just endured the worst emotional shock of his lifetime. The Sandusky charges (and Paterno’s firing in the midst of the university’s reaction to them) were included in the first paragraph of his New York Times obituary…”

Triumph and tragedy, this is the story of Joe Paterno. I’m reminded of a quote from a movie, The Dark Knight, “You’ll either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” I don’t believe there’s absolute truth in this quote, however it seems to have some application to this situation. But this was no movie. It was the life of one of the most respected men in college football history whose legacy reads differently today than if it had been written even just a year ago.

It makes me wonder about your legacy. How would you like to be remembered for the worst mistake you ever made?

Marc Antony said it best in Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” A legacy is a fragile thing.

There’s a woman in Scripture. We don’t know her name. All history records is that she was caught in adultery, brought before Jesus and the religious leaders of the day and publicly shamed. The intent of the crowd was more than shame. The law of the land declared adultery a capital crime punishable by death. We know the outcome. Jesus deals gently with her as he confronts the blood thirsty crowd. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Humbled, the crowd begins to walk away. Yet the legacy lives on. Forever this story will be known as, “The Woman Caught in Adultery”. I’ll ask again, how would you like to be remembered for the worst mistake you ever made?

Your legacy takes years to build and only one bad decision to tear down. You could say this about a lot of things.

  • Your marriage – years to build, one bad decision to tear down.
  • Your career
  • Your relationships with family, friends, coworkers, employees or boss.

How can we possibly get it right?

What if that’s the wrong question? What if the central focus of our effort isn’t the legacy we create, but the story we’re in? Life’s not a movie. You’re not the handsome hero or the evil villain. You are, however, a chapter in the story. The question of your legacy isn’t simply about what you got right. It’s about the story your life tells.

The headline may be, “Woman Caught in Adultery”. But the story is so much more than that. The story is the gentle and loving way Jesus forgives, silences the critics and restores a woman in the eyes of God and man.

The obituary may read, “Joe Paterno, the coach who won more games in U.S. college football than any other coach but saw his legacy tarnished…” But that’s not the story. History is still being written on this one. That may be the title, but it won’t be the story.

Today, if you’re making wise decisions, taking bold action, following God and doing the right thing – keep up the good work. Don’t risk the distraction of temptation or discouragement of the critics.

If, however, you’ve stumbled or fallen, if you’ve wandered down a path you never expected, don’t give up. Forgiveness is available. Your choices may write the title, but they don’t have to write the story.


2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

Words

The words we know are like a programming language. We may feel. We may imagine. But words give clarity, definition and direction to our thoughts, attitudes and actions. Political candidates and marketing experts look for just the right words to persuade your purchase. Preachers craft their message to inspire, convict and convince. The words we dwell on set a course for our future. The words we speak affect relationships and determine the depths of our influence.

Consider the following:

  • The words we know determine the thoughts we think.
  • The thoughts we think determine the attitudes of our heart.
  • The attitudes of our heart determine the choices we make.
  • The choices we make define the quality of our character.
  • The quality of our character becomes the legacy of our lives.

It sounds like a ‘successories’ poster, but just because it’s cliche’ doesn’t mean it’s not true. It begs a question.

What kind of words do you know?

Imagine what might happen if you took the time to get to know better words. I’m not talking about increasing your vocabulary – the world already has too many pompously loquacious voices rambling their insubstantial verbosity without end. I mean better words. Words that bring life. Words full of wisdom. Words that cause us to see the world more clearly. Words that help us understand people and circumstances in ways like we’ve never before imagined.

The Bible is often called ‘God’s Word’. What if the words we knew were God’s Words? Would our thinking become more godly? Would attitudes become more grateful? Would we make better choices? I believe so.

Peter said to Jesus, “Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” (John 6:68) Open up the Bible. Learn some new words and put them to good use.